A slice of Harare in Canada: Tadiwa turns passion for baking into a cultural offering

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CANADA: Tadiwa Rushambwa saw a void in the community and has used it to create his business.

In doing so, he’s brought a slice of Zimbabwe to St. John’s.

Rushambwa, also known as Ronald, is the owner and operator of Ronald’s Delicacies Treats, a bakery specializing in all things sweet while also promoting traditional treats from his hometown.

Rushambwa is originally from Harare, Zimbabwe and came to Newfoundland and Labrador in 2018 to attend Memorial University. Although it was an adjustment, Rushambaw says his reason for choosing the province was Memorial’s low tuition rates.

“I moved to St. John’s because friends of mine from home had told me about Memorial,” said Rushambwa. “It seemed like a really good school, with very low tuition. After arriving, I learned quickly St. John’s has a lot to offer.”

How his companions described the friendly nature of those in the community was also a contributing factor in his decision to move.

Rushambwa had come to the province to study business, though at the time he didn’t realize how much that would help him. It was in 2019 when he noticed a niche that no one seemed to fill.

“No one was doing baked goods, especially for students,” said Rushambwa. “Students had to buy their treats or cakes at grocery stores. I thought to myself, sometimes people really like homemade cakes, so I decided to step into that role.”

Originally, it started as a novel way for him to put himself out into the community, but, for him, baking wasn’t new. His love for baking actually goes back to when he was a child.

“I started baking with my mom back in Zimbabwe as a young boy. I have always been interested in baking,” said Rushambwa. “When I got here and I started doing it without my mom, it became so much more. It really turned into a passion.”

While he kept himself busy baking treats for students, friends and different campus events, it wasn’t until someone insisted on purchasing one of his cakes that Rushambwa realized there was a market for this industry.

“So, I was commissioned by another student, he was actually from Zimbabwe too, to bake a cake,” said Rushambwa. “He tried the cake and he said how much do I owe you. I was just kind of like, ‘oh no it’s for your birthday’ kind of thing. But he insisted. He said it was so good he had to pay; since I made something someone is willing to pay for, that’s when I got serious about a business.”

That’s when Rushambwa got to work marketing his new business.

“So, my main target demographic when I started was students, so I would post on Snapchat and Instagram to build clientele,” said Rushambwa. “As time went on, I knew I had to grow, so I had the idea of opening a separate page for my business and that drew in another crowd. Then, I heard about the farmers’ market and it gave me a chance to really network my products,”

While taking the pivotal steps to get his business up and running, Rushambwa says his degree was the key to ensuring a fully functioning business.

“In having my business degree, it helped me to manage my finances well, in terms of buying stuff,” said Rushambwe. “I was able to manage how much to spend on buying and how much I have to put back into my business. When I do my taxes, when I balance my accounts and my income statements, I have the knowledge. It also helped me get my business license. It just helped make this process much easier.”

Now with his business in full swing, Rushambwa says he plans to branch out and focus more on selling traditional treats from Zimbabwe.

“Some of the cakes and treats I make are from Zimbabwe,” said Rushambwa. “I’ve noticed more and more people want a taste of my home. That appeals to me; it gives me originality. There isn’t anyone else who is doing that, so I want to be the first.”

Since becoming an established baker within the community, Rushambwa has plans to continue growing his business. He has decided to stay in St. John’s to see where the road will take him.

“I am going to stay here in the province,” said Rushambwa. “I have built a loyal customer base here and I can maintain it from here better. I love the community here and I want to grow my business for this community.”